National Housing Authority (NHA) General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr. on Tuesday admitted that housing projects of the government are in a “sorry state.”
He added that the housing program in so far as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) is concerned was a failure because of non-conformity and non-adherence to standards.
But Escalada said that the NHA leadership is determined to improve the housing program and has in fact approved plans for the construction of bigger housing units for police and military personnel.
“We plan to increase the size of the lot and the floor area to which the President already agreed and we will be launching our new design for AFP-PNP in city housing program,” he told the Senate committee on urban planning, housing, and resettlement chaired by Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito that held an inquiry into the occupation of housing units built by NHA in Bulacan by members of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay).
The NHA, he added, will coordinate with the AFP and PNP regarding the projects.
The respective housing boards of the AFP and the PNP were not consulted by the NHA on the construction of housing units intended for their personnel, senators learned on Tuesday.
The government built 66,184 housing units in 2013 but only 8,240 were occupied, leaving 55,124 units, including those intended for police and military personnel, vacant.
Susan Nonato, group manager of the NHA, said that the agency consulted the housing boards of the AFP and the PNP. She added that the NHA held housing fairs in military and police camps to promote the housing programs in the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal.
But Lt. Col. Vilorna Cabral of the AFP said that she was told by officials before her that the military was not consulted by the NHA, particularly on the design and size of the housing units.
“If ever there was (consultation) it was merely for information purposes, that’s what I was told,” she added.
Chief Supt. Antonio Taylan, director of the Engineering Service of the PNP, also said that they were not consulted by the NHA.
“As far as we are concerned, we were never informed on the design (of units),” Taylan told the senators.
Taylan said the housing units were too small for a family to live comfortably.
Ejercito said the housing programs do not have access to electricity and potable water, schools and health centers.
“When government builds homes without regard for the immediate needs, safety, and comfort of those who would live in it, then it becomes a sheer act of shameless profiteering,” Ejercito said.